When you think about buying the “best” hunting, reloading, and gun gear of the year, you hear cash register chimes ringing up the bills. However, that’s not always the case. While we’re all still really waiting for upcoming 2017 products to hit the shelves, here’s a look back at the best accessories available under $35 to hunters, reloaders, and gun lovers from 2016.
1. Hornady ballistic bands
The rubberized bands introduced by Hornady in 2016 make recording each rifle’s ballistics simple, and keeps the information always at hand. No more wondering if you correctly remembered the ballistics for that 165grn or 180 grn load for your favorite rifle. The bands allow room for recording ammunition, bullet weight, and ballistic info from 100 to 500 yards. Simply write it on your ballistic band, and then either wrap it around your rifle’s stock or wear it on your wrist. MSRP on a two-pack of Ballistic Bands is a super-reasonable $5.16. I’ve ordered some to keep with all my rifles. Even if you don’t want to leave it on the stock over the long term — not that we’ve found any issues with doing so — it’s easy enough to keep with the gun.
2. Lyman bleacher blocks
Lyman continually comes up with ways to make the reloading process even more enjoyable, tidy, and efficient. They didn’t fail to disappoint in 2016, debuting a line of three sizes of tiered loading blocks dubbed Bleacher Blocks. All hold 50 rounds, allow for a smaller footprint on the loading bench and make it easier for large fingers to manipulate cases without bulldozing the entire unit. Built from a durable polymer, the blocks are resistant to most reloading sprays and lubes, and are available to fit most cartridges. One size fits .223, another fits .308, and the largest fits belted magnums. MSRP on any size of the Bleacher Blocks is $7.95.
3. Sig Sauer V-Crown revolver ammo
The company known for semi-auto pistols and tactical gear expanded its new ammo line to include wheelgunners. Sig has covered the most popular calibers with .38 Spl+P, .357 Mag, .44 Spl, .44 Mag, and .45 LC. All feature V-Crown JHP bullets and the rounds, like all V-Crown ammo, focus on three major things: weight retention, energy transfer, and controlled expansion. Sig’s ammo is high quality with ducta-bright nickel cases and it can do double duty as either defense or hunting loads. Twenty round boxes retail at $17.99 for the .38 and .357 and $22.99 for the .44’s and .45 Colt.
4. Lyman rifle mat
Lyman doubled-down on their successful gun maintenance mat from last year with a much sought after full-length rifle version. Like the original, the new mat is made of a durable, synthetic rubber that is not only non-slip, but also fully chemical resistant. Multiple molded in compartments allow for safe and organized storage of small parts as you work on your gun babies. And best of all, the mat protects both the gun and the bench, especially if you work in unfriendly spaces.
At 10” x 36” it’s big enough to handle most guns, cleans up with a quick wipe down, and is thick enough to offer adequate cushion and protection. Hanging loops on the end allow it to be hung out of the way and it’s supple enough to be rolled and stored as well. MSRP on the rifle-length mat is $33.95.
5. Allen Baktrak slings
The company known for innovative accessories may have just perfected slings for rifles, crossbows, and shotguns. The Baktrak name refers not to the outward looks of the strap, but rather, the soft, tire-tread design of the back. Per the company, the Baktrak pattern is built for a combination of noise reduction and extreme grip. Regardless of style, all Baktrak slings wear the same tread pattern, have a thumb-loop, are one-hand quick-adjustable, and include a pair of 300# tested swivels. Stitching is all heavy duty with double stitching in key areas. Retail prices vary by model, but hover around $20-$35.
6. Caldwell Ultimate shooting gloves
Caldwell and parent BTI brands offer specialized products for hunters, shooters, and reloaders and their Ultimate Shooting Gloves benefit any gun handler. The heavily padded rubberized palms reduce felt recoil, especially from handguns, while the padding layout allows full range of movement. Backing material is lightweight, breathable, and elastic enough for great dexterity. Best of all, a leather reinforcement patch protects against dreaded slide bite for hangunners, and touch sensitive finger tips allow use of smartphone touchscreens. And if you’re a practical type of buyer, these gloves are as equally at home on the shooting range as they are throwing hay bales in the mow. The Ultimate Shooting Gloves are just plain comfortable. They’re available in sizes S/M for more petite hands and L/XL for the big paws. MSRP on the Ultimate Shooting Gloves is $21.99
7. Hoppe’s gun medic quick fix
Introduced in 2016 from the Gun Care People, Hoppe’s Gun Medic is advertised as “911 for your guns.” Where other Hoppe’s products are ideal on the bench, this one is made to travel and do its work in the field when a quick clean is needed. The silver-and-orange aerosol cans are available in large 10oz and small 4oz sizes, with the All-in-One Cleaner & Lube Quick Fix being the heart of the line. The cleaner evaporates in about 60 seconds and leaves behind a thin layer of lube. Best of all, the bio-based lube uses the same technology used in jet engines and is cold/heat resistant from -65F to 500F. MSRP $7.95 – $12.95. Though Hoppes announced a line called “Black” for 2017, designed specifically for modern sporting rifles, Gun Medic works very well on black guns, too.